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i38             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
He was fortunate enough to find his first disciple in his own wife, for a wife can do much to mar or make a man's life. The next man to whom he related his experience in the cave was Waraquah; an old bent and blind sage who warned him:
"Of a surety they will drive thee into exile, for never hath mortal man brought what thou bringest without falling a victim to bitterest persecution. Ahl If God deigned to lengthen my days until then, I would devote all my strength to helping thee triumph over thy enemies."
But the inspired prophet must always put up with the cross of loneliness and misunderstanding; there are compensations for him which are too invisible and too intangible to be comprehended by the masses.
Every new religion must prepare to be stoned at its birth by the stolid and stupid.
His friends and relatives formed the earliest group of converts. They met and prayed in a quiet house outside the city.
In Mecca itself the people were following their rite of primitive magic, attempting to propitiate the unseen powers of the psychic threshold, worshipping a multitude of fetishes; here they were worshipping the One God.
For three years the gradually increasing group met and prayed in the utmost secrecy; for the appointed hour of public revelation, the date set by Destiny, had not yet come. And then the Voice spoke again to the Prophet, saying:
"Make known the Command which hath been given thee." Whereupon he did not hesitate to call a great meeting of his people together and to warn them that if they did not fling away their ancestral caricature of religion and return to true worship, the wrath of Allah would fall upon them. They listened unconverted, and left in disgust.
But the fire was now ablaze within him and he went from place to place, preaching the message which had been entrusted to him. He dressed in coarse cloth and ate simply. He gave away almost everything he had to the poor. He even went among the three hundred and sixty-six idols of the holy shrine of the Kaaba itself to remonstrate with the idolaters there present, as Jesus bravely went into the Temple to remonstrate